The Knight Arts Challenge is our Supporter of the Month!

February 2, 2016 | 826 Blog Post

We are bursting with pride to be a 2015 Knight Arts Challenge Detroit grant winner and honor the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation for their support of our students.

826michigan receiving Knight Arts Challenge grant

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation has been a tremendous partner in helping 826michigan complete our expansion to Detroit by investing $150,000 to open the Detroit Robot Factory. Just three months after being awarded this incredible opportunity, 826michigan has raised $100,000 of new gifts designated to match our $150,000 Knight Arts Challenge grant. These gifts have been donated by inspired members of the community who believe that our idea can spark positive transformation in Detroit.

Front facade of the Detroit Robot Factory under constructionAll told, the resulting $300,000 is part of our overall 3-year, $1,550,000 Detroit expansion plan. In addition to building the Detroit Robot Factory, we will host new programs on-site as well as grow out our programs currently operating in Detroit neighborhood schools and libraries.  Last school year, 826michigan served more than 550 Detroit students, and our ultimate goal is to build our Detroit outreach to be on par with our Washtenaw County successes, reaching 2,500 students a year.

Since 2005, we have hosted our writing and tutoring programs from the Liberty Street
Robot Supply and Repair in downtown Ann Arbor. The Detroit Robot Factory is the natural extension of our ten years of service to thousands of students across the Southeastern Michigan region. With the help of architect Noah Resnick, the Detroit Robot Factory is intended to spark students’ imaginations by giving them the power to manufacture their own unique stories and ideas.

Being awarded the Knight Arts Challenge grant has catapulted our vision of the Detroit Robot Factory to new heights, making it possible to connect 826michigan with a wider audience. Such visibility is critically important in not only gaining the funding to make our writing and tutoring programs available, but also to informing families and students that 826michigan is here in Detroit especially to serve them.

826michigan staff in the Detroit Robot Factory while it's under construction

Our unconventional robot theme is an essential part of 826michigan’s identity as a place where students arrive equipped with a mind to work and their own brand of whimsy. Students will enter the second floor writing and tutoring lab through the Detroit Robot Factory shop featuring themed gifts and student publications. There they’ll find an amazing workforce of volunteer tutors who will work side by side with them to complete homework, take on writing projects, and craft their own creative stories. Even more volunteers will be dispatched to Detroit neighborhood schools and libraries where they’ll offer even more writing programs. And the best part? It is all provided free of charge!

The $150,000 Knight Arts Challenge grant is helping 826michigan reach our mission to inspire school-aged students to write confidently and skillfully with the help of adult volunteers in their communities. We are proud to be recipients of this outstanding gift and look forward to the many ways in which its impact is demonstrated through the work of our students.

Detroit Robot Factory rendering

To contribute to 826michigan’s $150,000 Knight Arts Challenge to open the Detroit Robot Factory, please visit: or

The Knight Arts Challenge will again be accepting submissions in April for the best ideas for the arts in Detroit. If you have an idea, visit April 4 – May 2 and submit it.

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